If you are looking for a no-fuss, easy fitness routine to ring in the new year, consider a set of lightweight dumbbells. Let’s build up strength with beginner dumbbell exercises so you can progress to more challenging workouts!

How to Start a Beginner Dumbbell Workout Plan

Before you start dumbbell workouts, keep the following in mind when planning your routine:

  • Consult your doctor if needed. It’s normal for beginners to feel mild soreness at first. But if you have pre-existing conditions or mobility issues, check with your doctor if dumbbell exercises are ideal.
  • Start with light dumbbells. The best weight for beginners would be between 2 to 4.5kg. It should be heavy enough that you feel tired after 15 repetitions of your set.
  • Aim for quality, not injury. Training with the wrong type of weights will only strain your muscles. It will also prevent you from achieving the proper form.
  • Master the basics. Begin with simple dumbbell exercises and stationary moves like rows, biceps curls and squats. Using lighter weights can help you execute these more easily.
  • Ensure you’re doing the exercise correctly. Try watching video demos or performing the move in front of the mirror.
  • Progress gradually. Perform your dumbbell workout 2 to 3 days a week. Once ready, exercise longer or more often. You can also mix it up with a treadmill exercise or multi-gym workout. See this post for treadmill beginner tips.

Exercises for Your Beginner Dumbbells Workout Routine

Dumbbells may be a compact piece of equipment.

But with the right combination of moves, these are perfect for a full-body workout that targets several muscles.

Here are a few easy exercises for your beginner routine.

1. Standing Bicep Curl

This one is a simple exercise that beginners can easily do.

The bicep curl targets the upper arms and shoulders. It can also exercise your core muscles.

Standing bicep curls lets you engage your abdomen to prevent your upper body from swaying back and forth as you lift.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging at the sides.
  2. Keep your elbows close to your side. Your palms should be facing forward.
  3. Slowly bend your elbows and lift the weights towards your shoulders.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering the weights back down.
  5. Repeat the move as needed, or try alternating bicep curls. Make sure not to squeeze the weights while doing the exercise.
Lose weight with weightlifting exercise with torso upright

2. Bent-Over Row

This beginner dumbbell exercise is ideal for your back and the backs of your arms. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge forward from the waist, knees slightly bent, keeping your core tight and your back straight.
  2. Hold the dumbbells with your hands straight and in front of your chest.
  3. Now, slowly pull the dumbbells up, driving your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. The weights should go towards your hip area.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds when you reach the full range of motion.
  5. Finally, return to starting position and repeat for two sets with 20 reps each. You can try the single-arm dumbbell row on a bench, too.

3. Side Lateral Raise

Lateral raises are excellent beginner workouts, especially if you want to build muscles for defined and strong shoulders.

This dumbbell exercise works out your traps and core muscles, too.

The goal here is to form a T position with your body as you raise the dumbbells out to your sides.

  1. Stand while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms at your sides and your palms facing inward.
  2. Raise the dumbbells slowly and out to the sides. Make sure to keep your arms straight each time you lift them.
  3. Pause for a few seconds once your elbows reach shoulder height.
  4. Then slowly lower the weights and return to starting position.
  5. Try repeating this move for four sets with 12 reps each.

4. Reverse Lunges

Lunges are another beginner dumbbell exercise staple because they work multiple muscle groups, particularly the legs, glute and core muscles. It is also one of the best dumbbells exercises you can do.

This form of exercise is super versatile that, aside from dumbbells, you can do it with a vibration machine or resistance bands, too. Click here for more full-body vibration machine exercises.

  1. Hold the dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides and palms facing your thighs.
  2. Step one leg forward. Lower your front knee. Your thigh must be almost parallel to the floor.
  3. When bending, your knee should not extend past your toes. Keep your chest facing forward as well.
  4. Now step back and return to starting position. Repeat the same move with the other leg.
Reverse lunges using lower body weight movement

5. Russian Twist

We’re always on the lookout for exercises that target our tummy muscle group area. And so, I’ve included the Russian twist that aims for our obliques or the abdominal sides.

It’s a popular exercise among athletes. But beginners can surely do them, too, at a slower pace.

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent slightly or in a V position.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in front of you, then slowly twist your waist left to right.
  3. When you turn to your side, make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight.
  4. Try doing this more for 12 repetitions (1 rep is a twist to each side).


A pair of dumbbells is perfect for any fitness level, even for people with little weight training experience.

But aside from a good beginner dumbbell workout plan, you need the best equipment, too.

Check out my adjustable dumbbell review and buying guide to learn more.

Alternatively, kettlebell workouts are also similar to dumbbells. Find out more from this guide.